Ferguson, Inslee proposing limit to high capacity magazines, end of assault weapon sales

Ferguson, Inslee proposing limit to high capacity magazines, end of assault weapon sales
Washington Attorney General's Office
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. 

Attorney Bob Ferguson announced Thursday that he will propose a package of legislation to combat mass shootings in Washington state.

Governor Jay Inslee is joining Ferguson for the first time to propose limits to magazine capacity and a ban on the sale of assault weapons.

Ferguson intends to propose legislation to add background checks on ammunition sales after federal rules are changed, in addition to other safety measures to keep ammunition out of the hands of dangerous individuals.

“It took just 32 seconds for an individual armed with a 100-round double-drum magazine and an AR-15-style weapon to shoot 36 people before he was killed by law enforcement,” Ferguson said. “That same rifle and magazine are perfectly legal to purchase in Washington state. That makes no sense.”

“This is the time to take action on common sense measures that will save lives. We should be making it harder for those who want to inflict mass violence and destruction upon innocent people,” Inslee said. “By limiting magazine capacity and banning assault weapons, we can work toward a day where no one in Washington state loses a friend or family members to senseless gun violence.

Ferguson and Inslee pointed to two mass shootings in Washington state when announcing their upcoming proposals. The government officials said high-capacity magazines were used in the 2016 Mukilteo shooting where three young people were killed, and the 2016 Cascade Mall shooting in Burlington, where five people were killed.

In a release, the AG’s office said limiting magazine capacity forces shooters to reload, which buys time for victims and law enforcement.

Ferguson and Inslee said a would-be mass shooter at Seattle Pacific University was tackled and stopped when he was reloading his shotgun.

The Attorney General and Governor are proposing joint-request legislation to ban the sale of assault weapons. The bill makes an exception for law enforcement, military personnel and recreational shooting ranges, and allows for the possession of grandfathered weapons purchased before the effective date of legislation.

The bill’s definition to assault weapons would be similar to the definition used by seven other states – semi-automatic weapons that contain at least one military-style feature.

In regard to ammunition sales, Ferguson’s legislation proposes the following:

— Prohibits violent felons and other individuals who cannot lawfully obtain firearms from purchasing or possessing ammunition
— Makes it illegal for firearms dealers to knowingly sell ammunition to violent felons and other individuals prohibited from owning firearms
— Prohibits dealers from knowingly selling ammunition to violent offenders and other individuals prohibited from owning firearms
— Requires ammunition sellers to obtain a state firearms license, which costs $125. This change will not impact current firearms dealers
— Requires background checks for all ammunition sales 30 days after the U.S. Department of Justice changes its rules and authorizes dealers to use the national instant criminal background check system, known as NICS, to initiate a check for a transfer of ammunition

In September, Ferguson joined 20 other attorneys general in writing a letter to Congressional leadership in support of the most recent bills to require federal background checks for ammunition.